CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

DIY Tune up on 1997 van?

How simple is it today for a vehicle owner to do any (if not all) of the tune up on a 1997 vehicle? Namely a Dodge Van. Is there any part of the tune ups that can be done without substantial electronic equipment? Our van is a 1997 V6 Dodge Grand Caravan.

If the vehicle has electronic fuel injection, you should just change the spark plugs and spark plug wires. That is all a mechanic will do if you ask for a tune-up. You might also consider changing the distributor cap. Good luck getting access to the plugs in a van.

You might also consider changing the distributor cap

I’d also change the rotor.

There is no such thing as a tune up any more. The computer tunes the engine continuously as you drive. All you do is change fluids and replace things that wear out, like spark plugs. Your owner’s manual should have a maintenance schedule which will tell you when certain things should be replaced. Read and follow it.

Sorry but there isn’t a cap or rotor to change on this engine. It is a DIS system, no distributor but it does have ignition wires that can be changed.

The three rear spark plugs will be interesting to remove. The instructions say to remove the wiper cowl (and that’s how I’ve done it). I understand it’s possible to replace the rear three plugs without removing the cowl.

You need a universal socket adapter to allow weird angles.

Didn’t think anyone used that type of ignition system 12 years ago.

Not to discourage you but full size vans are one of the hardest to work on,things are just harder to get to. My side-job labor rate is probably three times higher than a full size pickup,I most likely won’t even take the job.

Are you trying to fix a problem by doing “tune up” (I don’t like the word either anymore) type work? Is that why you are asking about electronic equipment?

I thought it was a full-sized van at first too, but in this case it is a minivan. At its age, I am willing to bet it could used new plugs and wires.

I had a 1986 Buick Lesabre, 3.8L, that had DIS. Also, All Toyota Supra’s w/ 3.0L turbos had DIS from 1986.5 and on.

Thanks everyone for your replies. I believe that my concerns are not unfounded. I know how freaking hard it was just to get to the dang headlamp on the driver’s side! I don’t even want to think about how many extra hours I’d take trying to get the plugs out of the sockets! :whew: It may cost more, but hey… at least now I’ll know why… I sure miss the old days with my '67 Impala!

Oh yeah Grand Caravan,different animal,not nearly as bad.